Hey guys, let’s get ready to par-TAY! Check out how much fun a life lived under Australia’s new National Health and Medical Research Council dietary guidelines will be, courtesy of Chris Berg:
For an average man, the hypothetical day begins with toast (wholemeal, two slices), baked beans (half a can), a tomato (medium size), and a glass of milk (250ml, reduced fat).
Breakfast is as good as it gets. Lunch is a sandwich (wholemeal) with 65 grams of sliced roast beef, 20 grams of reduced fat cheese and some salad. Two small coffees may be consumed at your discretion. For dinner, look forward to a tiny piece of fish – 100 grams maximum – rice, and a small, boiled potato. End your day with a glass of water. (Dinner for women: a cup of pasta, 65 grams of beef mince, kidney beans and half an onion.)
A hundred grams of fish, for Americans and other readers still using the old money, is less than four ounces. Have fun! Berg goes on to nail the way even advice about what to eat has become a question of ideology:
But there’s a deeper ideological battle going on around nutrition.
After all, what is the point of providing ”guidelines” that are so far removed from the experiences of Australian eaters? Surely health tips should not simply be scientifically accurate, but also socially plausible.
Advice is pointless if it’s going to be ignored. If our best medical minds have decided that drawing any pleasure from food is too risky, perhaps they should rethink their goals.
In 2008, the NHMRC decided any more than two glasses of wine in a single session constituted ”binge drinking”. This decision turned the previously benign cultural practice of sharing a bottle of wine into dangerous hedonism.
But ”binge” is a moral concept rather than a scientific one – it’s just a synonym for ”bad”. Since risky behaviour exists on a continuum, this redefinition was little more than an attempt to berate people into changing their behaviour.
That was five years ago. Now public health activists are pushing the message ”there is no safe level of alcohol consumption”. Another banality pretending to be insight. There’s no totally safe level of doing anything. But expect to find ”no alcohol” on official recommendations soon.
Food and drink are deeply intertwined with cultural identity. No wonder our palate is a political plaything. Environmentalists are frustrated the NHMRC didn’t focus on sustainability. Social-justice types want more attention on equity and fairness.